Tablets without a future?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussion' started by OffWorld, Nov 21, 2010.

  1. OffWorld

    OffWorld Senior Member

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    The build quality on a lot of these tablets isn't that great and there are bunches of posts by people who've had their tablet suddenly die. However, if that doesn't happen what kind of future do any of these tablets have?

    Most were manufactured to the bare minimum requirements of the OS that ships on them, and not only may never see a firmware upgrade they may not be technically capable of running (or at least running well) any other version of Android than the (already outdated) one that is on them.

    In the not-too-distant future (like, say, February of 2011 when Honeycomb is rumored to hit) there will probably be a lot more apps being released that can't even be installed on any of these "Eclair" or earlier tablets. So by this time next year am I just going to chuck the tablet in the bin at the electronics recycling center? Use them to level uneven tables? Prop doors open? Kitchen countertop trivet?

    I presume that, after the manufacturer stops supporting the device(s) the dev community will continue to release custom Android roms for a while, but ultimately they'll also run into problems given the limited hardware that can't be upgraded. There are ARM ports of both Debian and BSD that could extend the usable life of these tablets as well, though most of the work I've seen on that runs them as chroot so as to preserve the existing Android os, rather than ditching Android entirely for the other os (which, of course, also brings problems some Android rom cooks are dealing with - "proprietary code" used by some of the hardware that either still needs to be open-sourced or reverse-engineered). I'm not holding my breath, though, on a fully functional Debian or BSD port for any of these tablets.

    Your thoughts?
     
  2. gurgle

    gurgle Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I think you are pretty much on target. The majority on sale prior to November 1. (And I mean the ones you would get in your hands, not pre-order) are disposables. It has been my opinion, we have all been beta testers and dripping bleeding edge at that. I would compare what we are experiencing is comparable to the PC market spun up to a double or triple speed. Anyone who compares PCs to tablet development, We went from a single core to multi-core processor for desktops in a 15 year period and Tablets are doing the same in a 18 month period. I look at Cupcake (1.5) like a Windows 95/NT and Froyo (2.2) like either Windows 2000 or Early XP. I think Gingerbread and/or Honeycomb will be like a Mac OSX or Windows 7. It will be worlds better but requiring both power (Processor), Storage SSD 32/64 and Memory 512Mb+.

    So what will happen to the non-compatible or capable Tablet. They will be a night stand e-reader or alarm clock. In my opinion, this is already true of any 8505 chipset. The next generation tablet willl have multi-processor,SSD single chip drive and 512Mb+ RAM.

    Three of the critical things that make these units disposables is lack of support, the non-user accessible Battery and the easily brickable firmware. There needs to be the simple to update firmware model which is supported. But that costs money. When I talk to people about Android tablets vs phones. I emphasize the lack of support. Until there is more than just community support, Tablets are no competitor to an IPad.

    The Lenovo LePad, The other various big players which are waiting for 2.3/3.0 Android will be the true competitors.
     
  3. LS650

    LS650 Member

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    I'd be more worried about the battery dying and being not easily replaceable than about the hardware or software becoming outdated.
     
  4. tipstir

    tipstir Senior Member Developer

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    Once you drop one of these tablets on the floor you can kiss away that glass inside which is use for the TS. There isn't support for the unbranded models from China. Everything comes from one source. It's just plain black and white and the FCC docs from these China companies are the same source where the iPad comes from. ePad, iPed, aPad, gPad etc. So many and yet the clones or replicated models pretty much function the same way. They overheat, battery doesn't charge correctly, wacko keyboards, in / accurate finger nail or stylus touches on the screen don't always work, auto rotate 360 is limited on these tablet most can only do 190 to 270 rotate plus it can stick in one mode. These first crop of tablets should be more of a test product, but a lot of people just can't wait for 2011 models which might cost hundreds more than these off brands.

    Another brand that is really new is Nextbook they have Next2 and now soon to release Next3 both use Rockchip Dual Core 600MHz and newer one is 1GHz. Looking at the FCC docs they're based on M701, M703, M714.
     
  5. AnimaTechnica

    AnimaTechnica Senior Member

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    well to the extent that they serve the purpose i bought them for - i think they will live on for a while - as a low cost email, browsing, video watching, reading device i expect to see them living through the 2-3 years span of a typical pc refresh cycle - sure some apps may not install but as long as i get to do what i do with them now i am good and i consider it money well spent
     
  6. daddywalter

    daddywalter Member

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    I'm putting my faith in the future. (See my "Wishlist" post.)

    I'm hoping that Android tablets evolve to the point that upgradeable versions become available, and that we will see the first of these within the next 12 months. I'm talking mainly about OS and app upgrades, but being able to increase both RAM and storage would be very nice too. (Yes, I realize this would almost certainly result in shorter battery life; but maybe we'll also be able to upgrade to longer-lived battery technology as it becomes available.) Ideally, upgrading the OS shouldn't be any more difficult than upgrading a PC's BIOS, but I could settle (at first, anyway) for taking my tablet back to the retailer and having the OS flashed for a small fee.

    It would also be nice if Android does what I expect it will do: provide the necessary "nudge" to bring widespread public acceptance of Linux as an alternative to Windows and Mac OS. Android can actually provide two nudges: one to developers who port their Android apps to PC platforms, and another to consumers who want Android's ease of use (and those same Android apps) on their home and work computers.

    Google and tablet manufacturers, are you listening? Upgradeable Android tablets are the way to go. I'll take mine in basic black, with RAM and SSD storage maxed out. More than an iPad, less than a full-blown computer; that's the market's "sweet spot" for next year and beyond, I think.
     
  7. Pumpkinseed

    Pumpkinseed Member

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    Next2 may be fairly new to the market, but it has the oldest version of Android loaded- 1.5. Add to the mix that rooting methods on the device have basically been blocked and you have a dead fish. Neither Next or Next3 have Android Market on them. Who wants a tablet without Market? Well, I have one, given to me as a gift by my husband, and it sucks not having market.

    :(
     
  8. gdanko

    gdanko Member

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    I am wondering if these vendors are willing to provide sources for their kernels and drivers. If they can do this then as long as your hardware is supported you can build new versions of the OS. The Nexus S is fully open source as are its drivers. As a result, people are building AOSP for the Galaxy S line of phones (me included). I would contact the manufacturer of any such device and ask if they do provide sources.
     
  9. TheZ

    TheZ Member

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    I don't think they will become anything less than what they are. If you have a 1.5 or 1.6 variant, you likely did not pay much and got a great e-book reader or web browser from it. If you are disappointed that it will not be compatible with newer apps and upgrades well you were wishfully thinking from the beginning. they likely will just not be able to run the new stuff. Some of the more promising tablets are being ported with newer Android versions. If you want to use your 350mhz tablet for more than reading a book or updating your social network sites, you likely should have bough a different tablet from the start.
     
  10. tae254

    tae254 Member

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    Great point. You get what you pay for. I got my sylvania 7inch tablet mainly as an ereader and for my students to do light surfing of the web on. I got my galaxy tab for different purposes. I spent so much money on it, so that i could have a power house tablet and know that I will be getting upgrades and the support I need from the vendors since it's sold by a company that I know I can get in contact with if need be.
     
  11. allenaxon

    allenaxon Member

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    Agree with TheZ too; early adapter of any technology or gadget had always paid a price, either in the case of iPads for their "cool" factor, or in the case of DOS machines for their quirkiness (anybody old enough to remember those?).
    People paid for a product for its perceived value, and then decided its usefulness after they actually used it. With the rapid development of Android OS, version upgrade are done in months instead of years, who has the crystal ball to glaze and tell what is the hardware requirement would be at the same time next year?
    I may be a Seller, but I always let my customer know the limitation of what they are buying into, as long as the price is right for what you want to do with it, and it works for a reasonable period of time, then your money is well spend!
     
  12. mattls

    mattls Member

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    What you have to think about is the price on many of the tablets. You can get many of them for under 250. For that price you really cant expect the build to be great, but then again there are some that are about 500 and up that are decent. The biggest problem is that Google has not yet approved any Android tablets so no one is really going all out.
     
  13. strider_mt2k

    strider_mt2k Member

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    I remember DOS. I learned it. I flew it. I was there! ;)

    As I settle into a daily usage pattern with my tablet I can't help but have some of the same thoughts.

    If mine lasts long enough to outlive the battery it could probably work quite well plugged in all the time doing "Chumby " service on my desk.

    The fact that this tablet is good enough to be a daily driver at all says a lot about these things.

    I'm a sucker for gadgets and tried a cheapie Win CE netbook a few months back that was absolutely painful to try to do the least thing with.

    So yeah we're on the bleeding edge, and who knows what the future brings, but there is still some decent work being done in this area.

    Bottom line is that these "off-tabs" are still the stuff for tech enthusiasts who understand what they are getting into.

    Consumers will be hard pressed to make a go of them.
     
  14. xaueious

    xaueious Administrator Staff Member

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    The problem lies much with small generic manufacturers and factories, who have really non infrastructure to support software development. Most of them purchase components and assemble them, and there's your new tablet. Without the need to upkeep brand recognition, shanzhai companies operate like this to avoid accountability and end-user support. They can just make a few thousand units of a batch, and just disband. This is why a shift to buying from recognized brands is important to keep Android tablets competitive for the long term. Even if there may not be an upgrade path, there needs to be a support-net for product failures and subsequent repairs. These same companies are stealing designs and evading customs so that they can lower costs. This is an unhealthy situation that needs to stop soon.
     
  15. brokevet

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    I have a Sharp branded Mobilon Tripad. A 1996 Macintosh I am typing on now. Several different PalmOS devices. All work fine. I scan and print from a Mac running OS7.5. It is not how long they last. It is our craving for newer and faster. I drive a donated1983 car and all my goodies were donated to me. When you have no money you take everyone's former toys that they want to throw away... Folks give it to me when it has no fair market value at all. I am happy. Stuff still functions, albeit slowly.
    I see summer and Android 1.5 - 2.1 devices will be worthless to the tech gurus. They will be sporting dual core Android 3.1 128GB flash devices. Then I will get someone's old FroYo junk. :) Fine with me. I lag behind. But I am still in the game...

    Accepting donations. Birthday in a few days if someone wants to send a Nook Color :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2011
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